Wherein homsexualist activist Jesuit Fr James Martin is schooled

Libs attempt to defend their dissent from doctrine – especially about morals (read: sex) – by claiming that the Church’s teachings have not be “received”.  That is, if a large number of people say they don’t agree with the Church on some point, therefore the Church can’t claim that people must accept it.  Moreover, because the teaching hasn’t been “received”, the Church ought to change it’s teaching.   That’s liberal dissent in a nutshell.  It’s pretty much an exercise in dishonesty.

I see today at First Things a piece by Gregory Brown of the Witherspoon Institute which vivisects Jesuit homosexualist activist Fr James Martin’s claim in his new (bad) book about building “bridges” between the Church (the institutional Church, of course) and homosexuals.   Martin claims – wait for it –

“Theologically speaking, you could say that these teachings have not been “received” by the L.G.B.T. community, to whom they were directed.”

Hence, the Church should change her teachings.

Martin, as the First Things article points out, makes an appeal to the sensus fidelium in his claims about the need for teachings to be “received”.  Martin:

To take a theological perspective, a teaching must be “received” by the faithful. It’s a complex topic (and I am no professional theologian) but, in general, for a teaching to be complete [?] it must be appreciated, accepted and understood by the faithful. The tradition is that the faithful possess their own inner sense of the authority of a teaching. That’s the sensus fidei or sensus fidelium. You can find out more about it in the Vatican document Sensus Fidei.

No.  That isn’t the sensus fidelium.

The sensus fidei fidelium is real and serious.  However, the problem with lib claims about the sensus fidei fidelium is that the sensus has to be that precisely of the fidelium… the FAITHFUL.  You have to be faithful to the Church and her teachings to have the “sense/grasp/perception” of the Faith.  To bring in Augustine: Nisi credideritis non intelligetis… Unless you will have first believed you will not understand.

At the end of the First Things piece, Brown writes:

As I read and reread Fr. Martin’s interviews, I am struck by a persistent ambiguity. Whether given a banal or radical sense, his remarks do not cohere very well with the Vatican document he cites. Why mention the theology of reception at all, if he just meant to make a tactical point about the scale of the Catholic-LGBT divide? Fr. Martin agrees that the rejected teachings are magisterial—so the rejection of them cannot spring from any intuition “infallible in itself with regard to its object,” the Catholic Faith.  [BINGO!]

The topic is one that requires clarification. Ever since the document’s release in 2014, progressive Catholics have treated the sensus fidei as a kind of magic bullet licensing dissent on, well, exactly those issues you would expect. The sensus fidei—the spontaneous intuition that the faithful have on account of their connaturality to God—sounds very exciting, because it is. But it is not quite as exciting as certain theologians want it to be.

Yes, indeed.  There is great need for a solid book which tackles a) the concept of sensus fidei fidelium and also the b) level or weight of magisterial teaching and documents which communicate those teachings.

The other day I posted about old categories of censures and warnings about teachings which strayed from Catholic doctrine to be avoided, or ways of speaking about teachings which were deficient enough to warrant a warning.  HERE

These old categories are useful… but they are not often used today.  Are the ever use today?  That is, by someone who isn’t an Unreconstructed Ossified Manualist like me?


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Mike says:

    It’s becoming more clear by the day that Martin cares little for the continuity of the Magisterium or of authentic Catholic teaching in any sense. What’s not clear is that he pays any attention to charitable cautions or criticisms, except to whine that people who don’t share his heterodox views are being “mean!”

    After his magazine’s latest spectacle regarding how he thinks boys should regard the Blessed Mother, I can only pray he be excommunicated or at least officially silenced.

  2. Imrahil says:

    I am all for an authentic sensus fidelium. In which debate, it would have to be noticed that singular exceptions notwithstanding, “the LGBT community” by and large and as a whole and in its majority does not happen to belong to the fideles to begin with (unless perchance we understand this as little more than “baptized validly”).

    That said, the statement that a teaching must be received to be a Church teaching is actually more dangerous that any LGBT-friendly statement could be. Councils and the Pope-in-his-infallibility have not spoken much definitely about LGBT (probably because they thought the matter clear anyway, but that aside); but the First Vatican Council did teach, and put stress on the teaching, that a teaching need not be “received” to be a teaching.

  3. Michael_Haz says:

    “Theologically speaking, you could say that these teachings have not been “received” by the L.G.B.T. community, to whom they were directed.”

    It makes as much sense to say “theologically speaking, the fifth commandment has not been “received” by members of the homicide community, to whom it was directed.”

    Which is to say none at all.

  4. Poor Yorek says:

    For it is the number of a priest : and the number of him is thirteen hundred and sixty-nine.

  5. surritter says:

    I find it interesting that dissidents always seem to veer away from Church teaching on those items that directly impact personal behavior — such as sexual morality. They never seem to have a problem with, say, the Assumption of Mary.

    Why? Because adhering to the truth of the Assumption — or not adhering — does not require them to change their personal lives or behavior.

    From a logical point of view, there is more reason to be skeptical about the Assumption than about the Church’s teachings on homosexuality. I’m NOT advocating skepticism about the Assumption! But I use that to point out the hypocrisy of the libs: They’ll believe whatever the Church teaches… unless it requires people to give up sinful desires.

  6. Benedict Joseph says:

    James Martin is the contemporary Daniel Berrigan, the counter-intuitive, cutting-edge priest, only now of “sexual disobedience” in a disoriented mode. He craves the limelight and his homework assignments get a healthy percentage from the publisher and a spot on the morning show. He is somebody’s cash cow. I never met a heterosexual male who has any depth interest in homosexuality beyond an awareness of its existence. What is James Martin’s real agenda? “Justice?” Not likely, since the erroneous has nothing to do with authentic justice.
    Roman Catholic men and women have a right to priests who assent to the entire perennial Magisterium of the Church. Priests who do not assent to the entire perennial Magisterium of the Church are not qualified to take their salary. They should voluntarily withdraw from their positions – and that is what the priesthood is to them, since they surely are not invested emotionally and spiritually in its supernatural character – or they should be released by their ecclesiastical superior. This is a matter of justice. The faithful, those of marginal, nominal as well as those with a more ardent assent to Christ, are entitled – must have – faithful pastors. Otherwise the Roman Catholic Church is reduced to a fraudulent enterprise.
    How did a gentlemen such as James Martin – who does not assent to the tenets of the perennial teachings of moral theology – manage to be ordained? Did he believe in the faith when he was ordained? If he did, when did he start to abandon the faith? When his condition of unbelief became apparent why wasn’t he called to account? Who didn’t call him to account? Why?
    The problem isn’t sex.
    The problem is that there are enormous number of priests throughout the hierarchical structure who believe Roman Catholicism is a debate society, an “academic seminar,” a venue to toss “hot” notions. The hot topics are easy to spot. I think the ones that are far more imperative are the cool topics such as the existence of God, the nature of the Trinity, the Divinity of Jesus Christ, the reality of transubstantiation, the legitimacy of the sacraments, the Communion of Saints.
    If they don’t believe sodomy and bigamy are sins, what else don’t they believe?
    If their superiors allow them free range among the faithful, do they share their faithless perspectives? Why would they give them the long leash? Does Canon Law actually allow for men who do not hold to the faith a pastoral responsibility? Where is the accountability to the faithful? Men who cannot administer authority over their charges need to find other means of service, if not an entirely new means of scratching out a living.
    The Church is not a “senior seminar.” It is the Mystical Body of Christ, a Temple of Living God, which exists to offer Him worship, praise and thanksgiving.
    The faithful, when they don’t do their jobs, get canned.
    The legion of anonymous “Father Martins” are the real problem.
    They have to go. All of them.

  7. RichR says:

    Christ’s teachings weren’t “received” by most of God’s people back in His day, so why should we be surprised that today is any different? My gut feeling is that many heterosexuals in the Church who would champion a “change” in Church teaching on homosexuality are living a contraceptive lifestyle which, frankly, is not much different. Once you separate the sex from procreation, you start off down a long, dark road.

  8. mlmc says:

    I have heard of a heckler’s veto, but not a heretic’s veto. The idea that b/c you refuse to listen to an idea that it therefore is wrong is laughable enough, but to claim that refusing assent to
    the teaching authority of the Church renders its teaching incorrect is unbelievable.

  9. GregB says:

    From the article:
    Libs attempt to defend their dissent from doctrine – especially about morals (read: sex) – by claiming that the Church’s teachings have not be “received”. That is, if a large number of people say they don’t agree with the Church on some point, therefore the Church can’t claim that people must accept it. Moreover, because the teaching hasn’t been “received”, the Church ought to change it’s teaching. That’s liberal dissent in a nutshell. It’s pretty much an exercise in dishonesty.
    Isn’t this a lot like the story in the Bible about Cain? God engaged in accompaniment and discernment with Cain, but Cain went off and killed Abel. When God asks Cain where Abel is Cain lies and asks a nominalist question “am I my brother’s keeper?” (RSVCE)
    God gives him a fairly light punishment for killing Abel, and Cain’s response is “My punishment is greater than I can bear.
    Gen 4:14 Behold, thou hast driven me this day away from the ground; and from thy face I shall be hidden; and I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will slay me.” (RSVCE)
    Cain’s life is all about Cain. Cain is the selfie sinner for a selfie society.

  10. Lepidus says:

    Considering that the Church has not suddenly created a new teaching on immoral behavior, it would seem that the faithful have received this teaching already – for the last 2000 years or so. Basically, certain dissidents are now “un-receiving” it.

    Also, our Lord said quite a few things that were not well received by His listeners and even caused many of them to leave. Does that mean His teachings weren’t valid? But then again, these are the same people who said that He didn’t have a body cam with him so we don’t know what He said….

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